Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can happen after a serious traumatic incident or many traumatic events. Any event or incident can be considered traumatic if it is very upsetting, scary, shocking or causes physical or emotional harm directly (to them) or indirectly (to someone else). As people cope and manage with situations differently, people will experience traumatic situations differently and will cope differently. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will experience psychological trauma (or PTSD). People who are traumatised and experiencing PTSD may experience symptoms such as:
- Flashbacks (this is when a person may feel or act as though a traumatic event is happening again).
- Anxiety and feeling ‘on edge’.
- Up and down emotions (such as feeling tearful, irritable or numb)
Complex PTSD is a more serious reaction to a long-lasting traumatic experience, for example abuse, neglect or frequent violence.
It is important to remember that everyone copes with things differently. If you are struggling to cope after a traumatic event, it is important to let someone know and get help, support and advice. Talk to someone you trust such as a parent, carer, teacher or your GP.
Some people find it helpful to keep a log of when they experience trauma symptoms (such as flashbacks) to notice if there are patterns or triggers (things or situations that are more likely to make a flashback happen). If you notice patterns or triggers, this might help you to make a plan of how to manage these situations if they come up.
Having hobbies and interests and spending time with friends can be really helpful when you are experiencing symptoms of trauma as they can be a good distraction. Try to plan regular time to do activities and see friends.
- A therapeutic treasure box for working with children and adolescents with developmental trauma by Dr Karen Treisman
CAMHS Trauma Referral Guidance
What we do, what we don’t do and what you can do if you are worried about your child
Difficult, upsetting or traumatic events and experiences happen to young people. Here’s a guide to help you know how best to support your young person if they are experiencing or have experienced a traumatic event. This is not an exhaustive list; young people will experience other types of distress and symptoms which may not be included on this guide:
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